If you had spoken to a marketing expert at least a decade ago, it’s unlikely they would ever have thought chatbots would become vital to a successful marketing strategy.
Let’s be honest – the concept of chatbots was more or less in its stages of infancy in terms of using them for marketing and business purposes. Since then, everything has changed. Chatbots are becoming more prevalent cross-industry – especially within the multifaceted world of marketing.
6 ways to use chatbots for marketing
Provide customer support
Conduct research and collect user data
Personalize user experience
Garner potential customers and increase sales
Test or launch new products
Receive genuine reviews about products
How to use chatbots for marketing
If you lack background on chatbots and what they’re used for, you might also be lost on how using chatbots for marketing can help your company succeed. Chatbots, short for chat robots, are powered by artificial intelligence, and are used by websites to communicate with people online.
Many chatbots are hosted on an external site from a company’s home page. An example of this is Facebook chatbots, where millions of companies from fashion to banking and finance expand their marketplace to customers who reach out to their company via Facebook Messenger, where the chatbots live.
As of December 2018, there were over 2.32 billion monthly active users on Facebook. With this in mind, most account holders also use Facebook Messenger, making it the perfect platform to host a chatbot for businesses, small to enterprise-level.
If you’re looking to implement chatbots into your marketing strategy, but not sure where to begin, keep reading to discover 6 innovative ways to use chatbots for marketing.
1. Provide customer support
Chatbots are principally used to provide support like a customer service representative (CSR) normally would. If you cater to users on a global scale, it is inevitable that some of your website visitors will live outside of your time zone (and possibly your country), meaning your in-office CSRs may not be around to answer questions in a timely manner. To provide the most universally accessible customer support, chatbots can be programmed to answer user questions even during off-hours.
Programming a chatbot to recognize certain key phrases, like “Help me with my account” or “Contact sales representative” will give the chatbot a leg up in understanding user inquiries while having an opportunity to learn from new words and phrases in the process.
Not only can chatbots assist with the flow of user-generated inquiries outside of standard working hours, but they can also cut back on overall payroll expenses. Rather than paying one or more CSRs to work the graveyard shift, you can rely on a single chatbot to interact with potentially multiple customers at once. At most, you may have to pay a monthly, yearly, or contract-based fee to the host site for your chatbot, but you won’t have to pay a salary for it to work 24/7.
Even during working hours, chatbots can assist with customer inquiries during high-traffic periods or in the case of an emergency or mass outage that might affect the amount of support needed at a given time.
2. Conduct research and collect user data
The same way a person can prompt a chatbot to converse, a chatbot can prompt a person with questions to learn more about the individual while compiling demographic data about site users.
Instead of bombarding a user with questions during the first few minutes of interaction, a chatbot can gradually ask questions based on the progression of the conversation.
You can program your chatbot to ask questions from a site visitor, such as their age range, gender identity, type of computer they’re using (PC, Mac), and other demographic info that helps the chatbot to learn more about them. Using a chatbot to gather this information is a better approach than forcibly making site users take a pre- or post-conversation survey to gather information about them. If programmed correctly, chatbots can make for seamless, more naturally conversational interactions with customers.
Additionally, assuming your chatbot is equipped with the proper machine learning tools, it will be able to not only gather, but also analyze feedback and other user-given information. Analyzing this data can help refocus your company’s customer interactions to a more user-focused intent, thus strengthening your marketing strategy.
3. Personalize user experience
Personalization can be as simple as programming your chatbot to recognize a user’s name. Asking for a name at the beginning of the correspondence, then referring to the person by name during the conversation breaks the barrier of bot vs. human and makes the interaction seem real.
If the chatbot is hosted on Facebook Messenger, Facebook automatically knows the user’s name, eliminating the need to ask before interacting. However, if the chatbot is hosted independently on your website, each visit to the page is “new” and wipes the chatbot’s memory of any previous interaction with said customer. So, to ensure your company is providing that personal touch to any customer-facing interactions, make sure your chatbot asks the user their preferred name before beginning a conversation.
Another way to personalize user experience is programming the bot to recognize where your user is coming from (country/location), and depending on how advanced your chatbot is, tailoring its responses to match the user’s preferred language. Wouldn’t it be nice if your clients overseas could communicate with your chatbot in the language that’s most comfortable for them?
Lastly, you can program your bot to provide customized recommendations for a user based on their responses to a few basic questions at the beginning of the correspondence. If your chatbot learns that the user is on your site to find information about setting up a product or program, the bot may then redirect the user to your blog where multiple how-to articles conveniently populate for their convenience. Similarly, you can also program your bot to automatically send relevant, recommended articles or content based on the user’s inquiry.
4. Garner potential customers and increase sales
After learning demographic information about your site visitors as well as the reason they’ve sought out help (or decided to browse your webpage), you will be able to tailor suggestions about content and products specific to the individual user. If your chatbot notices the site visitor clicking through blog posts, the chatbot may prompt them to sign up for weekly emails with new web content they can read at their leisure.
Similarly, if the chatbot detects the site visitor is focusing on the product offerings page, it may prompt the user to read more information about a product, add it to their cart, or guide them to a human representative to ask advanced questions before making a purchase.
Even if the site visitor doesn’t end up making a purchase that same day, the chatbot can gather their information and reach back out at a later date. A chatbot can also remind someone about what they were looking at, instilling urgency by noting the popularity of the product they were considering.
Having a chatbot reach back out can help with developing long-standing relationships with your customers. This instills trust in your brand and loyalty among users, increasing the likelihood that they will buy a product from your company at a future time. Chatbots can help with strengthening customer relationships, which can often lead to sales.
5. Test or launch new products
Chatbots can help with product launches in a variety of ways from advertising, pitching, recommending, selling, and ultimately – purchasing. Because launching new products can be risky, your approach should differ depending on the product type.
For physical products, advertisement is key. Chatbots can introduce a customer to the new product, show comparisons between older versions (if applicable), send videos and images via chat to the customer, and ask questions about the product to see if it suits the user’s needs.
For digital products, chatbots can gather information from the customer (email, name, home address, phone number, etc.) so that they can be sent updates about products. The chatbot can also send a user shareable links to spread the word about your product information to their friends and social media connections.
6. Receive genuine reviews about products
Whether you’re launching a new product or selling something tried and true, you can use a chatbot to ask for feedback anonymously or with the user’s name visible while offering some incentive for their honest response. These reviews can be written directly on your website or linked to a review-based website whose information you use on your page.
If a customer dislikes a newly-launched product, the chatbot can ask follow-up questions and log the data for the sake of improving future product releases. Conversely, if a customer loves your product, the chatbot should encourage them to share their positive thoughts on social media or through the website.
Either way, the chatbot can provide the customer with easy access to sharing reviews, photos, videos, and text-based feedback to expedite the process.
Plus, chatbots can gather information about the user and their sentiments toward a product so that the bots do not recommend similar products to that user in the future, thus eliminating a frustrating game of back-and-forth with an unhappy user.
Seeing all the ways chatbots enhance your marketing strategy might make you interested in how to create one for your company to use. Find the easiest-to-use chatbots to see the one that's best for your company's needs.
Are you ready to add chatbots to your marketing strategy?
Chatbots are not only the way of the future, but they’re also the way of the present. Don’t be intimidated by chatbots; they’re here to help!
Want to read more about chatbots and how they can impact your company? Check out our guide on Facebook chatbots to help you navigate the world of automated communication.
Rebecca Reynoso is the Sr. Editor and Guest Post Program Manager at G2. She holds two degrees in English, a BA from the University of Illinois-Chicago and an MA from DePaul University. Prior to working in tech, Rebecca taught English composition at a few colleges and universities in Chicago. In addition to working for G2, Rebecca is a freelance editor and writer for a handful of small- and medium-sized tech companies. She has been editing professionally since 2013 and is a member of the American Copy Editors Society (ACES).